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Research MRI: Meditation Actually Alters Area’s of The Brain

Research: 8 Weeks is Enough Meditation to Alter Gray Matter

to Increase Awareness AND Decrease Stress

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There is a reason why nearly 100,000 viewers have chosen to share this article across the major social media platforms. The research done here demonstrates a connection between the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practice related to mood and attention and stress resiliency with changes that are taking place in the make up of the brain.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about his research is that it found that in an eight week mindfulness meditation program the amount of the brain’s grey matter BOTH increased AND decreased. It increased in the area associated with conscious awareness in the brain’s area of executive function…the cortex, while at the same time decreasing in the area associated with the stress response (the amygdala).

This study presents some very interesting results as brain science advances.

Check out the details below. Fascinating…

Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging  Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

For the current study, magnetic resonance (MR) images were taken of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) Program at theUniversity of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness . In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation — which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind — participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images was also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.

The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress

It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says ,Britta Holzel author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. “Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

Thanks to Harvard.edu where you can read the rest of this article.

 

Marriage of Service & Joy

“I slept and dreamt…”

Smaller Tagore

 

And this dream then leads  you where???  To live a life of service is to live life to it’s fullest.

As you take on responsibility for taking good care of your brothers and sisters…the family of man,

you find that you are also taking good care of yourself. Your compassion becomes the door to

a life that is complete and there’s the joy in it. This is not self denial. As it turns out this is how

you can best serve your own interests as well because they are no longer separate from others.

 

Comments are welcomed. Let’s engage.

Beginner Meditation Tips

Here’s Some Basics…Valuable For All Levels of Experience

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Getting past the unfamiliar is often key to any skill requiring practice. And meditation is a skill that gets easier over time with practice.

It helps to have a sense of what some of the basics are so that you have some confidence that you are proceeding in a useful and effective manner. Being comfortable, in a quiet place without interruption, and staying alert are all helpful.

If you have to lay down due to physical discomfort or medical problems, sometimes keeping eyes open, but softly focused will help distinguish your practice from sleep.

Beach Meditation

Try these different approaches and you will begin to get a sense of your preferences.

Meditation is an energy healing art that has great health benefits. Meditation is great for relaxing the mind, body, and spirit. In addition to boosting immunity to fight off harmful microorganisms, many studies have shown that meditation, mindfulness, and deep relaxation can reduce stress, improve cognitive focus, and affect emotions in positive ways.

How to meditate for beginners

Many beginners of meditation often experience a lot of noise in their head, making it hard for them to clear and calm their mind. This experience is very common and is not too hard to fix. Meditation is about relaxing the mind, focusing on the breath, and becoming a conscious observer of the breathing cycle as each breath gently flows in and out of the body to achieve a deeply relaxed state.

The meditation tips for beginners below will help you clear your mind, making it easier for you to achieve a deeply relaxed state of mind.

Meditation tips for beginners #1: Scan your body

Your mind is always thinking and being distracted by all sorts of messages, so clearing and relaxing your mind can be a huge challenge. One trick to shed the mental side-talk is to scan your body in unison with your breath.

Start by focusing your attention on your toes and silently telling them to relax. Then, repeat this process until you have scanned every part of your body from your legs and abdomen to your fingers, arms, heart, and head. By the time you get through giving attention to your entire body, you will be surprised to find how relaxed you are.

Meditation tips for beginners #2: Peaceful music

The vibration and sound of peaceful music can help relax your mind, making it easier for you to achieve a meditative state. The trick is to select music that is soothing and dreamy and preferably something without words. If you prefer having words in the peaceful music, words with soft and soothing tones are recommended.

Also, the volume should be low enough that it is not all-consuming but more in the backdrop of things. Furthermore, make sure that the music does not end or change significantly while you are still meditating.

Meditation tips for beginners #3: Imagery

When you see or think of an alarming image, your body is flooded with the stress hormone, cortisol, and becomes alert and on edge. The flip side of this phenomenon is that by focusing on calming and peaceful images, your body can tap into your inner stillness, thereby setting you up for relaxation and meditation. These types of images are very powerful for harmonizing the energy of the mind and body.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to meditation, so the more you do it, the more it will become easier to transition into a meditative state of awareness. Also, try to meditate on a regular basis so that your body becomes use to it. One thing you should always do before meditating is to make sure you are comfortable. If you are not comfortable, you are making it much harder to relax your mind to a state of inner peace.

Read the full article including 2 more tips and references here.